Louisiana’s Queen Of Creole Cuisine, Leah Chase
All hail to the Queen of Creole Cuisine, Executive Chef Leah Chase! Best known for her iconic restaurant in New Orleans, Dooky Chase, which opened in 1941 located at 2301 Orleans Avenue. She established her cuisine crown by serving down-home traditional dishes, with amazing spices and recipes for more than 50 years. She is was so revered that Disney used her as the inspiration for Princess Tiana in The Princess and The Frog.
Dooky Chase is more than a world-class Creole restaurant, it was home to family recipes that have been passed down through the centuries. It was a gathering place for the civil rights movement in the 1960s and today it continues to be a crown jewel when it comes to authentic New Orleans food. Leah Chase led an incredibly interesting life, from being the first woman to mark racehorse boards for local bookies, managing the careers of two boxers, to becoming the first African American to sit on the board of the New Orleans Museum of Art in 1972.
She always loved food. With her husband's help, she would return to her dreams of opening her own restaurant that was open to Black people. She started with a food stand until finally opening her first sit-down in 1941. The rest is history, as Mrs. Chase would not only capture her NOLA monarch for her legendary dishes but earned so many accolades and rewards they are nearly impossible to count such as the James Beard award. Learn more about her story here.
Dooky Chase is known for having an extensive collection of African American art throughout. Outside of food Mrs.Chase, who studied art in high school, fell in love with museums after her very first visit when she was 54. Later she would become the first African American to sit on the board of the New Orleans Museum of Art in 1972.
As part of the state's efforts to recognize individuals and organizations making invaluable contributions to the culture of Louisiana, our Queen of Creole Cusine was named Humanist of the Year in 2018 by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. One year later the Louisiana legend, Lean Chase passed in NOLA in 2019 at the tender age of 96. May she rest in everlasting peace.
Last year, the iconic New Orleans Chef was honored in Lafayette. Her family attended a ceremony at the renaming of Lafayette School to Leah Chase School, which had undergone a $7 million renovation! In addition, a beautiful mural of the legendary Chef was unveiled in New Orleans, La. Monday, Nov. 8, 2021.